Man arrested after short police search near Ninth and Iowa; schools temporarily tighten security

Story updated at 4:17 p.m. Friday

The Lawrence Police Department arrested a man late Friday morning near Ninth and Iowa streets after a short pursuit that began on the Kansas Turnpike, police said.

The Kansas Highway Patrol began chasing the man on the turnpike before he drove into Lawrence and abandoned his vehicle, fleeing on foot, Lawrence police spokeswoman Kim Murphree said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the chase. The Journal-World has reached out to KHP for further details.

Multiple law enforcement units converged on the area around 11:30 a.m. Friday, according to emergency radio traffic monitored by the Journal-World.

Lawrence police took the man into custody southeast of the intersection, near the 900 block of Highland Drive, and no one was injured during the incident, Murphree said.

Mathdaniel Squirrel, 22, of Topeka, was booked into the Douglas County Jail Friday afternoon after an arrest at 923 Highland Drive, according to the Douglas County Jail’s online booking log.

Squirrel was arrested on suspicion of burglary, criminal damage to property, reckless driving, as well as fleeing police, according to the booking log.

Nearby schools secured their buildings during the incident at the request of the Lawrence Police Department, school district spokeswoman Julie Boyle told the Journal-World. Hillcrest Elementary, Sunset Hill Elementary and West Middle School all followed lock-out procedures as a precaution. A short time later, after police cleared the area, the schools resumed normal operations with all students and staff safe, Boyle said.

Squirrel was in the news last summer, when the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office couldn’t track him down to testify at a murder trial.

Squirrel was one of nine men in a room at the North Lawrence Motel 6 on Sept. 2, 2017, when gunshots flew, killing a Lenexa man and injuring two others. Squirrel, who got the group of Topeka and Kansas City area men together for a night out in Lawrence, said at a preliminary hearing that the Kansas City men tried to rob him before they started shooting.

At the murder trial, Squirrel didn’t testify and all three defendants were acquitted of robbery charges.

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